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Phillies 6, Pirates 2

April 24, 1996

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ After sitting around for a week, Ken Ryan was ready to stand out.

``It’s been awhile since I got in there,″ Ryan said Tuesday after getting his first NL save by pitching three hitless innings in the Philadelphia Phillies’ 6-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. ``I just went right at them.″

Ryan, making his first appearance since April 16, has always had the kind of soaring fastball that he could blow past hitters.

It was Ryan’s psyche that was in need of some fine tuning after a disappointing tenure with the team he broke into the majors with, the Boston Red Sox.

After appearing in 56 games for the Red Sox in 1992-93, Ryan was picked as Boston’s closer on July 1, 1994. He went on to save 13 games and was selected the team’s reliever of the year.

Things continued to go well in 1995. Ryan did not allow a run in his first eight innings of the season and racked up seven saves between May 5 and June 5.

Then the bottom fell out. Ryan lost four straight games, including three in a six-game span between June 12 and June 30, and soon found himself demoted to Double-A Trenton.

Ryan worked his way back up to Triple-A Pawtucket and then closed the season with two appearances for the Red Sox. Boston traded him to Philadelphia in the offseason along with Lee Tinsley and Glenn Murray, for Heathcliff Slocumb, Rick Holifield and Larry Wimberly.

Most of the problem, Ryan said, was in his mind.

``A lot of it had to do with mental confidence,″ he said. ``I kind of got away from the things I used to do, and now I’m getting them back and I feel a lot better.″

Some of the problem was mechanics, and Ryan said hard work in spring training helped eliminate those problems.

``I kind of ironed out the wrinkles when I got to spring training, and right now, I feel real good,″ he said. ``I feel real confident the way I’ve been throwing the ball lately.″

Ryan allowed no hits and no walks, striking out three of the nine batters he faced. Russ Springer, who pitched a scoreless inning in the sixth, got his first NL victory.

``It was a great effort by our bullpen,″ manager Jim Fregosi said. ``Springer and Ryan both threw outstanding. That’s important for the confidence of our bullpen.″

Tied at 2-2, the Phillies broke open the game with three runs in the sixth. Benito Santiago’s fly ball to deep left bounced off the glove of Dave Clark at the fence for a run-scoring double.

``That was a real tough play,″ Pirates manager Jim Leyland said. ``The sun was high and the wind was blowing. If we had held them to one run that inning, we might have been OK.″

Instead, starter Paul Wagner (1-3) surrendered a two-run single to Kevin Stocker, putting Philadelphia ahead 6-2.

``I wasn’t tired,″ said Wagner, who entered the game with a league-leading 0.77 ERA. ``But I left the slider out over the plate for Stocker, and he hit it.″

The loss put the Pirates at 3-6 on a nine-game road trip.

``It’s a tough loss,″ Wagner said. ``Coming off a road trip, it would have been nice to get a win.″

The Phillies head out on their first four-city road trip since 1989, starting with a two-game series in Colorado.

``We face some tough teams that are playing well, especially ending with the Braves,″ Stocker said. ``It’s a tough two months for us because as soon as we get home, we’re home for seven, then gone again for 11.″

Notes: After the game, the Pirates designated right-handed pitcher John Ericks for assignment and called up right-hander John Hope, who was 1-0 with a 4.91 ERA in two starts with Triple A Calgary this season. Ericks was 0-3 with a 10.20 ERA in four starts with Pittsburgh, giving up 27 hits in 15 innings. ... The Phillies’ pitching staff extended its walkless streak to 25 1-3 innings. ... It was five years ago to the day that the Phillies replaced manager Nick Leyva with Jim Fregosi. Fregosi (373-378) is eighth on the team’s list of games managed and sixth on its win list. ... Pete Incaviglia became the first Phillie to be ejected from a game this season. He argued balls and strikes with umpire Larry Poncino in the fifth inning. Incaviglia hit a solo homer in the second. ... Lenny Dykstra was supposed to have the day off, but was pressed into service when Incaviglia was tossed. ... Ryan’s at-bat in the seventh was the first of his major-league career and his first since high school. He struck out. ... Wagner’s 10 strikeouts was one shy of his career high, set last Aug. 29 against Colorado.

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